Hank Hanegraaff, the host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast and Hank Unplugged podcast, reads Matthew 5: 23–26. Today’s passage has enormous ramifications for time and for eternity. The Lord Jesus speaks of the transcendent significance of reconciliation. If someone rightly has something against you such that you have indeed wronged your brother, it is imperative, says Jesus, to seek reconciliation. Do that first and then come and offer your gift—whatever that may be—at the altar. “I think of this every time I walk toward the altar in order to receive the pure body and precious blood of Christ,” says Hank. “It is crucial that I have rightly examined myself so that I do not partake in an unworthy manner.” For how can we seek reconciliation with God without first seeking reconciliation with those who are created in the image and likeness of God? When we are truly repentant of our sins, God bestows grace and pardon. Then, in truth, we receive God’s grace through faith. According to Matthew 5, a man leaves his gift at the altar and seeks to be reconciled with his brother before going back to the altar and offering his gift. But the person whom he sought forgiveness from also owes a debt. He owes the debt of forgiveness, so that true reconciliation can take place. If he refuses to forgive, says Jesus, he, like the man who was forgiven much in Matthew 18, will be handed over to the Judge, who will hand him over to the officer, and he will be thrown into prison—a not to veiled reference to the eternal prison of hell. Jesus bestows grace and forgiveness to all repentant sinners. We likewise must forgive our brothers and sisters from the heart. For if we do not, we ourselves will not be forgiven and reconciled in this life nor in the life that is to come.
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